Our next Pinch Hitter is Courtney Lofgren, a senior at Virginia Tech studying journalism and hoping to enter this crazy world of sports journalism after graduating in May. She previously interned with the USA Today sports department, and she writes about the Yankees and the Hokies on her own blog.
For her guest post here at LoHud, Courtney tackled the issue of the Yankees aging roster. Her take: Age is only a number, and in the Yankees’ case, it’s a good number.
The numbers above represent the ages of Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez respectively, the three oldest members of the 2012 Yankees.
Over the last several years, critics of the Yankees believe the team’s biggest problem is the age of many of its players. Sure, older veterans are more prone to injuries, but they also serve a valuable role beyond playing ability.
While critics believe age will hold back the Yankees, I believe it will do anything but. believe the age of the team actually helps the team. Any Yankee fan knows what to expect with from the players, in terms of professionalism, but with age comes wisdom, experience and consistency.
Jeter has been the team’s starting shortstop since 1996. In that time, along with Rivera, he’s earned five World Series rings, as well as countless personal accolades. Jeter, who is not quite the vocal leader, chooses instead to lead by example, which speaks loudly enough as the captain of the New York Yankees.
Unlike Chad, I do not have the opportunity to be around this team on a daily basis during the season, but it’s hard to argue that Jeter isn’t an influential leader in the clubhouse. Robinson Cano, believe it or not just turned 31 this past October. He’s arguably the best second baseman in the game, and in terms of his big league development, accelerated playing alongside veterans like Jeter and Rodriguez.
I have been one of Rodriguez’s greatest critics ever since he became a Yankee. I was impressed last season while Rodriguez was on a rehab assignment how he began to mentor Jesus Montero, the Yankees young catcher. Rodriguez, perhaps more than anyone in the game, has experienced the roller coaster ride of success and rock bottom. He has the opportunity to not only help young players on the baseball field, but off it as well.
Rivera has served as an irreplaceable member of the bullpen, outside of his role as closer. He took on the mentor role to many of the younger pitchers like Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson. Kerry Wood even said he learned a thing or two from Rivera when he wore the pinstripes in 2010.
Having strong veteran leadership in the clubhouse allows players to overcome adversity, including prolonged losing streaks. Veterans make than clubs with fractured leadership (see 2011 September Red Sox).
Remember, age is just a number.
Associated Press photo